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The Chemical Brothers “Further” (Virgin)

I was knocked down the first time I played this new one from the ever-changing Chemical Brothers. There are shades of where they were heading with this one on the last full-length (We Are the Night) in shimmering tracks like “Burst Generator” or single B-side “Electronic Battle Weapon 8,” but as an idea this is probably their most concise and deliberate outing since their debut. I give them credit for continuing to evolve, having dodged the big beat bullet nearly completely after their 2nd album yielded some hits and introducing new aspects of dance music and hip hop into their Ĺ“uvre while remaining playful and true. One might call this their shoegazer album, because it has all the light and air and brightness of shoegaze pop, but it still works as a dancefloor album, even when it veers far off course. “Dissolve” sounds like Spiritualized on E, and “Another World” is a woozy club track to be found at the intersection of The Field, Kompakt and the Chems’ own “Star Guitar” hit. “Wonders of the Deep” wraps up this shorter album (8 tracks, but some quite lengthy) with the swell and swoon of Ulrich Schnauss’s most triumphant moments. This is not to say that they don’t get down and dirty for the dancefloor – the whopping 12-minutes of “Escape Velocity” is epic in its arc and awesomely functional to boot, and “Horse Power” is a monster that challenges any of the more successful moments of their last album. It’s a surprisingly unified and nearly perfectly executed selection of tracks that reminds everyone that the Chemical Brothers are still capable as ever of surprises and creative success.

Watch/listen: “Escape Velocity”